Government, Not Business, Welcomes South Korean Women

Beyond the Veil| Women have moved from having no visible presence in the government of South Korea to one in which quotas now exist for men. When it comes to business, the boys club prevails. In the last five years, 55% of the 151 people who passed the highly comptitive diplomatic corps test were women.

In 1992 only 3.2% of officials groomed for senor posts in other parts of the South Korean government were women. Last year it was 47%, largely as the result of a quota system. The 30% quota for women, launched in 1996 now applies to men.

In business, with no quota systems, women are not so lucky. In South Korea, the four largest conglomerates — Samsung, Hyundai, LG and SK — dominate the economy. Women hold less than 2 percent of seats on their boards. With the world’s 13-largest economy, South Korea ranked 115th out of 134 in the World Economic forum’s 2009 index of gender equality. (The US ranks 31 by comparison.) via NYTimes